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  • Corruption by Customs Officials Facilitating Cross-Border Criminal Activity

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    By rramos.

    A growing number of customs officials in various parts of Mexico have come under investigation for alleged acts of corruption that purportedly enabled criminal networks to operate across the U.S.-Mexico border.

    Animal Político reported on April 13 that the federal Attorney General’s Office (Fiscalía General de la República, FGR) was investigating ten officials of the General Customs Administration (Administración General de Aduanas, AGA) who oversaw several ports of entry along Mexico’s northern border with the United States. This came after the Financial Intelligence Unit (Unidad de Inteligencia Financiera, UIF), the anti-money laundering office within the federal finance ministry (Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público, SHCP), detected numerous irregularities in the financial records of 29 AGA employees. As a result, all 29 officials were removed from their positions and ten were formally referred by the UIF to the FGR for further criminal investigation.

    Specifically, the ten former customs officials are alleged to have accepted bribes in exchange for allowing contraband to pass uninterrupted through the border inspection sites under their supervision. The contraband that was illegally permitted to enter Mexico from the United States included firearms, gasoline, and drugs. According to investigators, ill-gotten proceeds from the alleged bribes were then laundered through a variety of complex methods, ranging from suspicious real estate transactions to the use of front companies. ...

    Continue at Justice in Mexico: Corruption by Customs Officials Facilitating Cross-Border Criminal Activity. More #JusticeInMexico.

    Justice in Mexico works to improve citizen security, strengthen the rule of law, and protect human rights in Mexico. We generate cutting edge research, promote informed dialogue, and work to find solutions to address these enormously complex issues. As a U.S.-based initiative, our program partners with key stakeholders, experts, and decision makers, lending international support to help analyze the challenges at hand, build consensus about how to resolve them, and foster policies and programs that can bring about change.About Justice in Mexico

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  • Senate approves new Organic Law of the National Prosecutor’s Office

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    By tmcginnis.

    According to Reforma, in a nearly unanimous vote, the Mexican Senate approved a new Organic Law (Ley Orgánica) for the National Prosecutor’s Office (Fiscalía General de la República, FGR) on March 17. Now under discussion in the Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados), experts from primer think tanks, like México Evalúa, argue that there are presently no evidence-based arguments regarding the issuance of the new law, especially because the National Prosecutor, Alejandro Gertz Manero, has not complied with the current regulatory framework.

    While the current law broadly sought to create an autonomous prosecutor’s office and guarantee the guarding of essential human rights, the new regulations favor the investigation of individual crimes and not broader criminal trends, the limitation of victims’ rights, as well as the centralization of investigative control in the hands of the Prosecutor. Essentially, the new Organic Law perpetuates the organizational model of the former Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR), an agency that was characterized by inefficiency and ineffectiveness. During a México Evalúa online forum entitled “¿Necesita la FGR una nueva Ley Orgánica?” (author’s translation: “Does the FGR need a new Organic Law?”), the panelists discussed the fact that the principal aspects of the current regulatory framework, such as an a Citizen Advisory Council, transition units, career training, and professional service centers were never installed. Furthermore, the Criminal Prosecution Plan (Plan de Persecución Penal), which outlines the types of cases the FGR will prioritize during investigations, prosecutions, litigation stages, etc., and recognizes the FGR’s various temporal goals, was never presented. As noted by a México Evalúa analysis, the current situation reflects a dangerous exercise of Gatopardismo — a strategy that purports to introduce radical reform, while in practice making only superficial changes. In essence, it is a paradox that encompasses the idea of changing everything so that, in effect, nothing changes. ...

    Continue at Justice in Mexico: Senate approves new Organic Law of the National Prosecutor’s Office. More #JusticeInMexico.

    Justice in Mexico works to improve citizen security, strengthen the rule of law, and protect human rights in Mexico. We generate cutting edge research, promote informed dialogue, and work to find solutions to address these enormously complex issues. As a U.S.-based initiative, our program partners with key stakeholders, experts, and decision makers, lending international support to help analyze the challenges at hand, build consensus about how to resolve them, and foster policies and programs that can bring about change.About Justice in Mexico

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  • Violence Against Police in Guanajuato Highlights Complex Security Situation

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    By rramos.

    Guanajuato’s state police force (Fuerzas de Seguridad Pública del Estado, FSPE) announced on April 5 that two of its officers were killed following a confrontation with armed civilians in the city of Irapuato. FSPE personnel were conducting patrols when they were suddenly ambushed by a group of armed men traveling in a pick-up truck that featured homemade armor plating. Milenio reported that after the attackers were repelled by the state police, investigators found multiple long guns and bulletproof vests with the logo of an unspecified criminal group at the scene.

    This latest assault comes on the heels of similar incidents in other parts of Guanajuato in recent weeks. In the city of Silao, to the northwest of Irapuato, a state police officer was kidnapped and later killed by armed civilians on March 31. Roughly a week and a half prior on March 20, the bodies of three agents from the federal Attorney General’s Office (Fiscalía General de la República, FGR) were found inside an abandoned truck in the rural community of Campuzano, southeast of Guanajuato City.

    The state has been an epicenter of violence directed against police. According to the non-governmental organization Causa en Común, Guanajuato ended 2020 as the deadliest state in Mexico for law enforcement personnel, with the total number of slayings of police officers increasing 5% last year compared to the total seen in 2019. ...

    More at Justice in Mexico: Violence Against Police in Guanajuato Highlights Complex Security Situation. More #JusticeInMexico.

    Justice in Mexico works to improve citizen security, strengthen the rule of law, and protect human rights in Mexico. We generate cutting edge research, promote informed dialogue, and work to find solutions to address these enormously complex issues. As a U.S.-based initiative, our program partners with key stakeholders, experts, and decision makers, lending international support to help analyze the challenges at hand, build consensus about how to resolve them, and foster policies and programs that can bring about change.About Justice in Mexico

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  • Mayoral Candidate Assassinated in Oaxaca - 18th pre-candidate murdered this season

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    By scortez.

    On March 20, Ivonne Gallegos Carreños, a candidate running for mayor of Ocoltán de Morelos, Oaxaca under the National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional, PAN), was murdered. According to the initial investigation, Gallegos was traveling in a white van on a highway south of Oaxaca City with another individual when her vehicle was attacked by armed men. Her husband, José Luis Méndez Lara, was also assassinated back in 2015. Although prosecutors never released a concrete motive for his killing, they noted that he could have been targeted as a revenge killing and did not rule out that it may have been to send a message to Gallegos.

    The day before she was murdered, Gallegos submitted a request with the State’s Institute for Elections and Voter Participation (Instituto Estatal Electoral y de Participación Ciudadana de Oaxaca, IEEPCO) for more protection. She believed that her life was in imminent danger. She is the 18th pre-candidate to be assassinated since the campaigns to elect 153 municipal presidents began in September 2020. ...

    Gallegos’ assassination also underscores the danger that mayoral candidates and mayors alike experience in Mexico. It is estimated that Mexican mayors were 13 times more likely to be killed than the general public in 2019. According to the Memoria dataset by Justice in Mexico, from 2019 to 2020, the homicide rates of elected mayors, candidates, and former mayors have decreased by 62.5 percent. Although the homicide rates have steadily declined in recent years, local elected issues continue to be targeted victims of extortion by armed groups. As of 2020, the homicide rate of mayoral officials is 1.25 per 1,000 people. The gender-based violence that female candidates continue to face adds a new layer of risk. The 2020 Justice in Mexico Organized Crime and Violence in Mexico special report highlights the fact that the dangerous environment for these public officials becomes more threatening during election cycles. At a local level, the targeting of local elected officials demonstrates an obstruction of the democratic process in municipalities of Mexico.

    More at Justice in Mexico: Mayoral Candidate Assassinated in Oaxaca. More #JusticeInMexico.

    Justice in Mexico works to improve citizen security, strengthen the rule of law, and protect human rights in Mexico. We generate cutting edge research, promote informed dialogue, and work to find solutions to address these enormously complex issues. As a U.S.-based initiative, our program partners with key stakeholders, experts, and decision makers, lending international support to help analyze the challenges at hand, build consensus about how to resolve them, and foster policies and programs that can bring about change.About Justice in Mexico

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  • Prosecutorial Reform in Mexico: Assessing the Progress of the National Prosecutor’s Office

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    By tmcginnis.

    Two years after the creation of the National Prosecutor’s Office (Fiscalía General de la República, FGR), what is the status of prosecutorial reform in Mexico?

    Context
    In 2014, Mexico passed constitutional reforms to create a new and improved National Prosecutor’s Office (FGR), emphasizing autonomy from the executive branch. The reforms highlighted the need to replace the Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) with a new body to combat issues of inefficiency and ineffectiveness. Formalized on January 18, 2019, in what a Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) report described as “an accelerated process without civil society participation or a true assessment of the candidates,” Mexican Congress, specifically the Senate, chose Alejandro Gertz Manero to assume the role of the first national prosecutor, a position he will hold for nine years. Therefore, given that this new institution is still in its infancy, it remains critically important to evaluate the progress that has been made over the last two years.

    Broader demand for an autonomous National Prosecutor’s Office (FGR) can be understood through some rather notable figures. For example, according to INEGI (The National Institute of Statistics and Geography) data cited in a 2019 report by México Evalúa, one of Mexico’s premier think tanks, 93.2% of crimes went unreported or uninvestigated (cifra negra) in 2017 — that is to say, just over nine out of ten crimes that occurred in the country were not investigated by law enforcement institutions (see figure on the right). The creation of the FGR constitutes one of the most difficult challenges for the transformation of Mexico’s criminal justice system since the 2008 constitutional law reforms on security and justice. The recent prosecutorial reforms attempt to ensure[1] that the first national prosecutor, working in tandem with special prosecutors for investigating electoral crimes, human rights violations, corruption cases, etc., function independently of the president and his inner circle, and possess the necessary experiences and capabilities to thoroughly investigate the aforementioned offenses. Correspondingly, given these aims, there have been points of both progress and concern. ...

    Continue at Justice in Mexico: Prosecutorial Reform in Mexico: Assessing the Progress of the National Prosecutor’s Office. More #JusticeInMexico.

    Justice in Mexico works to improve citizen security, strengthen the rule of law, and protect human rights in Mexico. We generate cutting edge research, promote informed dialogue, and work to find solutions to address these enormously complex issues. As a U.S.-based initiative, our program partners with key stakeholders, experts, and decision makers, lending international support to help analyze the challenges at hand, build consensus about how to resolve them, and foster policies and programs that can bring about change.About Justice in Mexico

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  • Mexico’s Judicial System is Modernizing with Digital Justice

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    The following work is an investigative piece by Justice in Mexico Training Coordinator Janice Deaton.

    Introduction
    The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all sectors of society in Mexico, including its criminal justice system. Judicial powers throughout the country, which administer the state and federal justice systems, have had to modernize with new and updated technologies as they migrate to digital administration of justice. Many envision the potential of digital justice to broaden access to justice, but caution against further exclusion and marginalization of vulnerable groups.

    Closure of Mexican Judicial Powers
    On March 17, 2020, Mexico’s Health Secretary (Secretaría de Salud) issued an order closing all non-essential government offices, including the courts. The administration of justice in Mexico came to a standstill. Hearings were postponed with the expectation to resume them when conditions allowed and the pandemic ended. As weeks turned into months with no end in sight, however, judicial powers had to balance public health and safety with fundamental legal rights. This led to an acceleration of digital administration of justice, for which some states were more prepared than others.

    Many state judicial powers initially relied on remote technology such as videoconference to resolve matters not requiring hearings or in-person appearances. In-person hearings were held for only the most urgent of matters, such as domestic violence and evictions. In the criminal justice system, defendants remained in custody, awaiting resolution in their cases. ...

    Continue at Justice in Mexico: Mexico’s Judicial System is Modernizing with Digital Justice. More #JusticeInMexico.

    Justice in Mexico works to improve citizen security, strengthen the rule of law, and protect human rights in Mexico. We generate cutting edge research, promote informed dialogue, and work to find solutions to address these enormously complex issues. As a U.S.-based initiative, our program partners with key stakeholders, experts, and decision makers, lending international support to help analyze the challenges at hand, build consensus about how to resolve them, and foster policies and programs that can bring about change.About Justice in Mexico

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  • Ex-governor of Puebla arrested for the 2005 torture of journalist Lydia Cacho

    By aahrensviquez.

    On February 3, 2021, federal prosecutors arrested the former governor of Puebla, Mario Marín Torres, for the torture of journalist Lydia Cacho in Acapulco, Guerrero. The arrest was announced by the current governor of Puebla via Twitter.

    The Government of Puebla recognizes the @FGRMexico his intelligence work to secure the arrest of Mario Marín Torres, hoping that justice will be rigorously applied.

    Marín had been hiding in Acapulco, in his sister’s home, for eight days. Federal prosecution had been surveilling the house for four days before his arrest. ...

    Continue at Justice in Mexico: Ex-governor of Puebla arrested for the 2005 torture of journalist Lydia Cacho. More #JusticeInMexico.

    Justice in Mexico works to improve citizen security, strengthen the rule of law, and protect human rights in Mexico. We generate cutting edge research, promote informed dialogue, and work to find solutions to address these enormously complex issues. As a U.S.-based initiative, our program partners with key stakeholders, experts, and decision makers, lending international support to help analyze the challenges at hand, build consensus about how to resolve them, and foster policies and programs that can bring about change.About Justice in Mexico

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  • Witness Links the Military to the 43 Missing Ayotzinapa Students

    By scortez.

    A recently leaked witness testimony directly implicates the military’s involvement in the disappearances of 43 students in the Ayotzinapa case. It is the most recent development to come in the long pursuit of justice for the victims’ families. In 2014, a group of over 100 students from Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos were traveling to Iguala, Guerrero to protest discriminatory practices against teachers. In a coordinated effort, police intercepted three of the buses heading back to Ayotzinapa on a northbound route and another heading southbound. Once they were pulled over, they were then teargassed, fired on, and loaded into seven patrol cars. Soon after, their families raised national alarms that led to a flurry of investigations to hold those accountable for their disappearance.

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    Rapid Arrests in a Discredited Investigation
    The initial investigation led to the removal and arrest of the mayor of Iguala, José Luis Abarca Velásquez, and his wife, María de los Ángeles Piñeda Villa, for sanctioning the disappearances. The same investigations resulted in the arrest of numerous local police officers that were involved. According to the BBC, the investigation concluded that the police apprehended the students and handed them over to a drug cartel known as Guerreros Unidos (GU). The cartel took the students to the local dump where they were killed and disposed of into a nearby stream. Despite making several low-level arrests, the findings of the previous investigations have been widely discredited by independent investigators. The lack of sufficient explanation has caused the victims’ relatives and demonstrators to put pressure on the federal government to expand their investigations into the military’s potential involvement. This mounting pressure from a broad coalition of civil society organizations successfully pressured the current government to open a new round of investigations.

    New Testimony Reveals Multi-level Corruption
    The results of the initial investigation exposed corruption across multiple institutions, implicating local officials, police, and now, members of the military in the disappearance of the 43 students. In November 2020, Army Captain José Martinez Crespo became the first high-ranking military personnel to be arrested on charges related to the disappearances of the students. He was a military commander at the 27th Army Battalion base when the disappearances occurred. In a recent report from Reforma, a witness testified that the Mexican military handed off the students to GU. The case is part of a larger investigation by Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero into the disappearances. The involvement of military personnel had been speculated, but this latest development confirms these suspicions. ...

    Continue at Justice in Mexico: Witness Links the Military to the 43 Missing Ayotzinapa Students. More #JusticeInMexico.

    Justice in Mexico works to improve citizen security, strengthen the rule of law, and protect human rights in Mexico. We generate cutting edge research, promote informed dialogue, and work to find solutions to address these enormously complex issues. As a U.S.-based initiative, our program partners with key stakeholders, experts, and decision makers, lending international support to help analyze the challenges at hand, build consensus about how to resolve them, and foster policies and programs that can bring about change.About Justice in Mexico

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  • Two Years of AMLO in Office: A Brief Look at his Security Strategy

    By emarinoni.

    It has been just over two years since Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, commonly known as AMLO, took office in December 2018. This provides an opportune moment to reflect on the impact and effectiveness of his security strategy–a strategy that promised to be a key focus during his administration.

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    Presidential Campaign
    Since his early days on the campaign trail, President López Obrador (2018-2024) proposed a security strategy based on four key pillars. This includes the creation of economic and social opportunities for youth; an amnesty law for specific crimes under specific conditions; the lifting of the ban on illicit drugs, together with the rebuilding of resources for social reintegration and detoxification programs; and finally, the promotion of sanctions for non-compliance with recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos, CNDH). In addition, AMLO’s administration rooted its security strategy in a policy based on the slogan “hugs not bullets” (abrazos no balazos), moving away from the strategy of the militarization of public security and the focus on killing cartel leaders. This represented a pivot from previous administrations’ approaches, including those of former Presidents Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) and Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018).

    First Years of Government
    During the first two years of the López Obrador administration, several reforms were implemented in support of the strategies AMLO proposed during his presidential bid. ...

    Continue at Justice in Mexico: Two Years of AMLO in Office: A Brief Look at his Security Strategy. More #JusticeInMexico.

    Justice in Mexico works to improve citizen security, strengthen the rule of law, and protect human rights in Mexico. We generate cutting edge research, promote informed dialogue, and work to find solutions to address these enormously complex issues. As a U.S.-based initiative, our program partners with key stakeholders, experts, and decision makers, lending international support to help analyze the challenges at hand, build consensus about how to resolve them, and foster policies and programs that can bring about change.About Justice in Mexico

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  • Mexico Clears Former Defense Minister Cienfuegos of Criminal Allegations

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    By rramos.

    In reaction to the announcement that the Mexican government would not pursue prosecution, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said it was “deeply disappointed” and added that it “fully stands by its investigation and charges in this matter”. U.S. officials also sharply criticized a move by Mexico’s Foreign Ministry (Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, SRE) to publish 751 pages of evidence against Cienfuegos that U.S. authorities had collected and subsequently shared with Mexican counterparts. A spokesperson for DOJ stated that the SRE’s public release of investigative documents, apparently done on President López Obrador’s instructions, “violates the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance between Mexico and the United States, and calls into question whether the United States can continue to share information to support Mexico’s own criminal investigations.”

    President López Obrador seemed to shrug off the heated U.S. response at a January 18 press conference, in which he slammed the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation into Cienfuegos’s alleged ties to organized crime. Asserting that the evidence against Cienfuegos was fraught with “contradictions” and “errors,” President López Obrador argued that documentation provided by DEA did not prove any of the U.S. accusations because it relied too heavily on “screenshots” and written messages with spelling errors that could not be attributed to the former defense minister. At another press conference days later, the president again alleged that the DEA had “fabricated” evidence against Cienfuegos, a claim he had reiterated several times since the FGR announced it would not move forward with criminal charges. ...

    Continue at Justice in Mexico: Mexico Clears Former Defense Minister Cienfuegos of Criminal Allegations. More #JusticeInMexico.

    Justice in Mexico works to improve citizen security, strengthen the rule of law, and protect human rights in Mexico. We generate cutting edge research, promote informed dialogue, and work to find solutions to address these enormously complex issues. As a U.S.-based initiative, our program partners with key stakeholders, experts, and decision makers, lending international support to help analyze the challenges at hand, build consensus about how to resolve them, and foster policies and programs that can bring about change.About Justice in Mexico

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  • Ongoing Prison Clashes Underscore Growing Criminal Violence in Zacatecas

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    By rramos.

    The latest outbreak of prison violence in Zacatecas continues to highlight the state’s emergence as a key epicenter of organized crime-related violence in Mexico. In the early morning hours of January 15, a riot erupted at the Cieneguillas Regional Center for Social Reinsertion, a prison located just west of Zacatecas City. Fighting between inmates took place in multiple locations throughout the facility, and lasted roughly two and a half hours. After security forces were deployed to restore order within the prison and the surrounding vicinity, authorities confirmed that at least one prison inmate had been killed, and six more had been injured.

    This most recent incident of inmate violence at Cieneguillas prison is merely the latest in a string of violent clashes that have occurred over the past year. In an interview with La Jornada following the January 15 riot, Zacatecas Secretary of Public Security Arturo López Bazán described Cieneguillas as a “time bomb,” and recounted that the prison also suffered a three day-long riot from December 31, 2019 to January 2, 2020 in which 18 inmates were killed and 20 more were injured. López Bazán went on to point out that Cieneguillas was the site of five additional outbreaks of prison violence throughout the rest of 2020. ...

    Continue at Justice in Mexico: Ongoing Prison Clashes Underscore Growing Criminal Violence in Zacatecas. More #JusticeInMexico.

    Justice in Mexico works to improve citizen security, strengthen the rule of law, and protect human rights in Mexico. We generate cutting edge research, promote informed dialogue, and work to find solutions to address these enormously complex issues. As a U.S.-based initiative, our program partners with key stakeholders, experts, and decision makers, lending international support to help analyze the challenges at hand, build consensus about how to resolve them, and foster policies and programs that can bring about change.About Justice in Mexico

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  • CNDH’s 2020 Recommendations on Human Rights Violations

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    By kheinle.

    Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, CNDH) issued 90 standard recommendations (recomendaciones) in 2020 against offending institutions and local, state, and federal bodies. The ombudsman generates these formal reports for the government agency against which a complaint (queja) about a human rights violation has been levied. The recommendations are a list of steps that the accused parties need to take in order to repair and remedy the damages caused.

    CNDH’s 2020 Recommendations
    Of the 90 such recommendations issued in 2020, the most were against Mexico’s Institute of Social Security (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, IMSS), which received 12. This was followed by the Institute for Social Security and Services for State Workers (Instituto de Seguridad y Servicios Sociales de los Trabajadores del Estado, ISSSTE) and its executive leadership (Dirección General del ISSSTE), which had a combined ten. Mexico’s National Institute of Migration (Instituto Nacional de Migración, INM) had six recommendations.

    The only other authorities that received more than three recommendations were the Secretary of Security and Civilian Protection (Secretaría de Seguridad y Protección Ciudadana, SSPC), the Attorney General’s Office (Fiscalía General de la República, FGR), and the State Attorney General’s Office of Chiapas (Fiscalía General del Estado de Chiapas), each with four. Below that, four institutions received three recommendations each, and another eight received two each. The remaining 87 bodies all received just one recommendation, the majority of which were municipal governments. These 90 recommendations are categorized differently than CNDH’s general recommendations, recommendations for grave violations, and recommendations based on the national protocol to prevent torture. For more information on CNDH and the recommendation process, check out Justice in Mexico’s special report on human rights violations.

    Continue at Justice in Mexico: CNDH’s 2020 Recommendations on Human Rights Violations. More #JusticeInMexico.

    Justice in Mexico works to improve citizen security, strengthen the rule of law, and protect human rights in Mexico. We generate cutting edge research, promote informed dialogue, and work to find solutions to address these enormously complex issues. As a U.S.-based initiative, our program partners with key stakeholders, experts, and decision makers, lending international support to help analyze the challenges at hand, build consensus about how to resolve them, and foster policies and programs that can bring about change.About Justice in Mexico

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  • Mexican Security Law Reforms May Impact Bilateral Initiatives on Organized Crime

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    By tmcginnis.

    The National Regeneration Movement (Movimiento Regeneración Nacional, MORENA), President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) ruling party, passed a new law that curbs the role of foreign law enforcement agents operating within the country. This legislation calls into question the durability of the U.S.-Mexico bilateral efforts to combat the presence of powerful organized crime groups (OCG) exercising significant control over the Mexican state.

    As reported by InSight Crime, the law and subsequent reforms, approved on December 9 and 15 by the Senate and Congress respectively, strip diplomatic immunity from foreign officials, necessitate that foreign officials secure permits from the Defense Ministry (Secretaría de Defensa Nacional, SEDENA) to carry firearms, and require the aforementioned officials to share any and all security-related intelligence gathered while in Mexico with their proper Mexican counterparts. Concerning information exchanges, Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at Brookings’ Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology, further details that both Mexican officials and law enforcement officers, whether it be at the local, state, or federal level, must report all communication with foreign law enforcement, intelligence agents, etc. within three days of the initial occurrence. Furthermore, meetings with foreign agents must obtain prior approval from high-ranking federal officials and require the presence of a member of the Mexican Foreign Ministry (Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, SRE). ...

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    Justice in Mexico works to improve citizen security, strengthen the rule of law, and protect human rights in Mexico. We generate cutting edge research, promote informed dialogue, and work to find solutions to address these enormously complex issues. As a U.S.-based initiative, our program partners with key stakeholders, experts, and decision makers, lending international support to help analyze the challenges at hand, build consensus about how to resolve them, and foster policies and programs that can bring about change.About Justice in Mexico

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  • Querétaro at the forefront of Mexico’s justice system.

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    By kheinle.

    The State of Querétaro appears to be the model in Mexico for implementing the Accusatorial Criminal Justice System (Sistema de Justicia Penal Acusatorial, SJPA), at least according to several research organizations and elected officials. When considering the state’s use of an inter-institutional collaboration system, as well as its efforts to reform its prison systems, Querétaro has been at the forefront.

    México Evalúa
    One of Mexico’s leading research institutes, México Evalúa, found that Querétaro was the top state for the third consecutive year in a row in terms of its criminal justice proceedings. The findings were published in its annual report, “Hallazgos 2019: Seguimiento y evaluación del sistema de justicia penal en México,” released in October 2020. The report looked at factors including the strength and integration of the SJPA, the technology used, and the state’s unique, institutional coordination. It specifically highlighted Querétaro’s use of the model known as “Cosmos,” or the Commission for the Evaluation of the Operation of the SJPA (Comisión para la Evaluación de la Operación del SJPA). The model focuses on inter-institutional collaboration, which, according to México Evaluá, has expedited the state’s consolidation of the criminal justice system since it went into effect just one year ago (Hallazgos, pg. 30).

    Querétaro Governor Domínguez Servién
    Querétaro’s governor, Francisco Domínguez Servién, similarly credits his state’s judicial success thanks in large part to the “strong inter-institutional coordination.” Speaking at the second Cosmos session in early December, Domínguez proclaimed that “with the participation of the people of Querétaro, [this state] will be the epicenter of justice in the country.” ,,,

    Continue at Justice in Mexico: Querétaro at the forefront of Mexico’s justice system. More #JusticeInMexico.

    Justice in Mexico works to improve citizen security, strengthen the rule of law, and protect human rights in Mexico. We generate cutting edge research, promote informed dialogue, and work to find solutions to address these enormously complex issues. As a U.S.-based initiative, our program partners with key stakeholders, experts, and decision makers, lending international support to help analyze the challenges at hand, build consensus about how to resolve them, and foster policies and programs that can bring about change.About Justice in Mexico

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  • Arrest warrants issued in 2005 torture case of Lydia Cacho

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    Left to right: Lydia Cacho, Mario Marín Torres, and José Kamel Nacif. Photo: Expansión Política.

    By aahrensviquez.

    Mexican federal prosecutors re-issued warrants on December 4, 2020 for the arrest of Puebla’s former governor, Mario Marín Torres; businessman José Kamel Nacif; and Pueblas’s former subsecretary of Public Security, Hugo Adolfo Karam Beltrán, for the unlawful detention and torture of journalist Lydia Cacho in 2005. This highly publicized case has largely been seen as illustrative of the dangers of being a journalist in Mexico and the government’s failure to hold those responsible to account.

    The Case of Lydia Cacho
    In 2005, Mexican journalist and activist Lydia Cacho published her book The demons of Eden: the power that protects child pornography (Los demonios del Edén, el poder que protege a la pornografía infantil). The book exposed the protection that businessmen Jean Succar Kuri and José Kamel Nacif were receiving from politicians and other businessmen when they were accused of creating a prostitution and child pornography ring. On December 16, 2005, months after the publication of her book, Cacho was arrested in Cacún at the Center for Women’s Comprehensive Assistance (Centro Integral de Atención a la Mujer) headquarters by members of Puebla’s judicial police force on charges of defamation. She was then transferred back to Puebla to face trial.

    It was during her transfer, from December 16 to 17, 2005, that Cacho was tortured by members of the police force. According to ARTÍCULO 19, an independent, nonpartisan organization in Mexico and Central America that advocates for the freedom of press, during the ten hours Cacho was detained, the authorities did not give her food or administer her bronchitis medication, nor was she allowed to sleep. Cacho was only allowed to use the bathroom once and place one phone call during this period. She was subjected to psychological and physical torture, sexual abuse, and threats. ...

    Continue at Justice in Mexico: Arrest warrants issued in 2005 torture case of Lydia Cacho. More #JusticeInMexico.

    Justice in Mexico works to improve citizen security, strengthen the rule of law, and protect human rights in Mexico. We generate cutting edge research, promote informed dialogue, and work to find solutions to address these enormously complex issues. As a U.S.-based initiative, our program partners with key stakeholders, experts, and decision makers, lending international support to help analyze the challenges at hand, build consensus about how to resolve them, and foster policies and programs that can bring about change.About Justice in Mexico

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  • Female Mayor of Jamapa is Kidnapped and Murdered

    By vrice.

    Florisel Ríos Delfín, Mayor of Veracruz’s Jamapa municipality, was kidnapped from her home late on November 10, 2020 by ten armed men. The mayor was found dead early the next morning in a rural area of Medellín de Bravo, a neighboring municipality. Police speculate that an organized criminal group was behind the attack. In Mexico, such violence against local mayors, former mayors, mayoral candidates, and alternate mayors has become increasingly frequent. Justice in Mexico’s (JIM) Laura Calderón argues that this violence threatens the democratic process and undermines rule of law.

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    Ríos is the second female mayor murdered during the term of Cuitláhuac García Jiménez, current governor of Veracruz. Maricela Vallejo, the mayor of Veracruz’s Mixtla de Altamirano municipality, was murdered in April 2019 alongside her husband and driver. The Saturday before her murder, Mayor Ríos attended a meeting with all the other municipal presidents of Veracruz affiliated with the Revolutionary Democratic Party (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD). At the meeting, the mayor expressed feelings of being in danger and asked for help. In her last interview before the murder, she voiced similar sentiments of fearing for her life, which she attributed to the disarmament of local police and a municipal budget that was insufficient to pay for personal security. Veracruz Government Secretary Éric Cisneros Burgos had ordered for Jamapa police to be disarmed shortly before Ríos was killed because the majority of officers had been using firearms that were not registered and approved by the Mexican Secretariat of National Defense (Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional, SEDENA). Therefore, the officers had been using the weapons illegally. In the week before her murder, Ríos met with Secretary Cisneros to request that she and her family receive state protection. Cisneros denied the request. ...

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  • Quintana Roo Police Violently Disperse Feminist Protest

    Content warning: the following blog post contains mentions of sexual violence and assault.

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    By vrice.

    On November 9 at around 4:00pm, 2,000 protestors marched to the Quintana Roo Attorney General’s Office (Fiscalía Central), located in the city of Cancún. Demonstrators gathered to demand justice for Bianca Alejandrina Lorenzana Alvarado (“Alexis”) and implore the government to take more substantial action against femicide. The 20-year-old had gone missing on November 7, and her body was found two days later, dismembered in trash bags. The police of Benito Juárez, the municipality where Cancún is located, violently dispersed the protestors who had gathered. Four journalists were injured, two of which suffered bullet wounds, and two of the eight detained demonstrators reported sexual assault by the police. These acts are a reflection of a larger pattern of police repression of feminist protests and attacks on journalists in Mexico.

    To Serve and Protect?
    On the evening of November 9, 50 Benito Juárez police officers began firing on feminist protestors who attempted to break into the Attorney General’s Office. Following the event, the head of the police force, Eduardo Santamaría, was dismissed on grounds of “abuse of power” for ordering officers to fire on protesters. Santamaría argued that he had ordered officers to fire into the air, but demonstrators reported seeing police aim directly at protestors. Despite the otherwise peaceful nature of the protest, journalists Cecilia Solís (from the media outlet Energy FM) and Roberto Becerril (from The Truth News, La Verdad Noticias) suffered gunshot wounds in the leg and arm, respectively.

    The Quintana Roo Attorney General’s Office falsely claimed no protestors had been detained via Twitter, despite reports from the Network of Quintana Roo Journalists (Red de Periodistas de Quintana Roo) that eight people had been detained a few hours prior. The Quintana Roo Human Rights Commission (La Comisión de los Derechos Humanos del Estado de Quintana Roo), whose personnel provided support to the detainees, corroborated the Network’s claims.

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  • United States Will Drop Charges against Former Mexican Defense Minister Cienfuegos

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    By rkuckertz.

    In an abrupt and unexpected reversal, the United States Department of Justice has announced that it will drop all drug trafficking and money laundering charges against Former Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda. The announcement came as a shock after a months-long investigation led to the secret indictment and subsequent arrest of Cienfuegos by U.S. officials.

    The former defense minister (2012-2018) was arrested in Los Angeles on October 15, 2020 after he was indicted on various drug trafficking and money laundering counts, including conspiracy to import and distribute heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana. The arrest shocked the Mexican public, as Cienfuegos is the first high-ranking Mexican military official to be arrested in the United States in connection with organized crime. The evidence against him pointed to his involvement with the H-2 cartel in exchange for bribes. Blackberry messages obtained by U.S. investigators detailed these alleged crimes, which included facilitating drug shipments into the United States and introducing cartel members to officials willing to accept bribes. Following his arrest, the former security official was transferred to a New York detention facility where he awaited trial in New York’s Eastern District.

    However, in a joint statement released on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General William Barr and his Mexican counterpart, Alejandro Gertz Manero, announced the planned dismissal of all charges against Cienfuegos. The attorneys general explained that the decision represented “a strong law enforcement partnership” between the two countries and demonstrated a “united front against all forms of criminality.” ...

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  • The INE Takes Strides Against Gender Based Violence

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    By vrice.

    At the end of October, the National Electoral Institute (Instituto Nacional Electoral, INE) unanimously endorsed guidelines for political parties to help combat gender-based political violence. Amongst other requirements, these stipulated that, beginning in 2021, no aspiring candidate can be convicted or accused of domestic violence, sexual misconduct, or have defaulted on alimony payments.

    The Guidelines
    The guidelines approved by the INE were in response to the 3de3VsViolencia initiative introduced in August of this year by female members of the Chamber of Deputies (from Morena, the PAN, PRI, PRD, and MC) and Yndira Sandoval, cofounder of an organization called the Feminist Constituents (Las Constituyentes Feministas). The iniative delineated that no male with a record of violence against women be allowed to occupy a position in the legislature, executive or judiciary. Building on the 3de3VsViolencia, the INE guidelines outlined some methods to “ensure equality and guarantee women’s ability to exercise their political and electoral rights within parties,” including for political parties to: ...

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  • Two Former High-ranking Federal and State Officials Face Charges of Corruption

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    By kheinle.

    The López Obrador administration’s efforts to root out corruption continue, this time with two officials at the federal and state level facing charges.

    Corruption at the Federal Level
    Luis Videgaray, the former Secretary of Finance and Public Credit (Secretaría de Hacienda y Credito Público, SHCP) during the Peña Nieto administration (2012-2018), is being investigated for alleged acts of corruption, electoral crimes, and possibly even treason. He allegedly received millions of dollars through the Brazilian-based business Odebrecht, the high-profile case of corruption that the López Obrador administration is working to untangle. A judge initially blocked the warrant for Videgaray’s arrest. Prosecutors are now working to “perfect” the language and justification for the warrant before resubmitting the request.

    Former CEO of PEMEX (Petróleo Mexicano), Emilio Lozoya, named Videgaray in the case. Lozoya, who is currently facing charges of corruption, tax fraud, bribery, and money laundering, is cooperating with officials as his case unfolds. Videgaray is one of a handful of high-profile persons that Lozoya has accused of corruption. This includes former Presidents Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) and Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994), and even President Enrique Peña Nieto under whom he served. In August 2020, according to Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero, Lozoya named Peña Nieto and Videgaray in the Odebrecht scandal, saying that he handled millions of dollars’ worth of bribes on both of their behalf, reported the Washington Post. ...

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  • Feminists symbolically occupy MORENA headquarters amidst sexual assault accusations

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    By vrice.

    Feminist activists mobilized on October 12th, blocking the entrance to the Mexico City headquarters of the National Regeneration Movement (Movimiento Regeneración Nacional, MORENA/Morena), the political party of current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). The women gathered to prevent candidate Porfirio Muñoz Ledo from declaring himself the winner of contested elections for the party presidency, due to numerous allegations of sexual assault against him.

    On October 16, the National Electoral Institute (Instituto Nacional Electoral, INE) declared that elections for Morena’s next president had resulted in a technical tie between candidates Muñoz Ledo and Mario Delgado, requiring that a new poll be conducted. In response, Muñoz Ledo accused the INE’s Councilor President, Lorenzo Córdova, of refusing to acknowledge his victory, and demanded that Córdova rectify the decision or resign. Via virtual conference Muñoz Ledo also denounced the Electoral Tribunal (Tribunal Electoral) as corrupt, and stated that he would not accept the results of the next poll as he had already won. Two days after these accusations, Muñoz Ledo then published a tweet calling on his supporters to accompany him to the headquarters the following afternoon to forcibly assume the presidency of Morena.

    Given the numerous accusations of sexual assault against Muñoz Ledo in the preceding weeks, feminist activists mobilized in response to his statements in order to, “prevent an abuser from taking over Morena” (“para impedir que un acosador se apropie del partido”). At 8:00am on October 12, feminist activists gathered outside the gate of Morena’s headquarters in the Colonia Roma district of Mexico City to pressure the party to take action against Muñoz Ledo. The protestors prevented any entry or exit by placing red tape that read “peligro” (danger) and numerous signs on the building’s entrance, with phrases like, “Aquí no entran violadores” (“rapists cannot enter here”) and “Morena será feminista” (“Morena will be feminist”). They also wrote “clausurado” (closed) with pink chalk on the sidewalk outside the gates. ...

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  • The Rights to Water in La Boquilla

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    By mlopez.

    The protests in La Boquilla, Chihuahua have turned violent within the past month as the exportation of water across the border is continuing. A 1944 U.S.-Mexico treaty, which was in response to both parties’ mutual interests in both countries’ shared rivers, has resulted in a large debt that Mexico owes the United States. Mexico has delayed the release of the water reparations and the fast-approaching October 24th deadline of this year is resulting in the accelerated extortion of water from the dams in La Boquilla. This has resulted in a large divide among the local farmers who rely on the water for their agricultural purposes and the guardia nacional (National Guard) who is entrusted with releasing this water into the Rio Grande river.

    The 1944 Treaty
    The Treaty of February 3, 1944 between the United States and Mexico established a mutual agreement to share water between the Colorado River and the Rio Grande. The neighboring countries would allow an equal amount of water to pass through the borders as they both share the environment surrounding the border. While both parties were invested in these two vital rivers for the region, the use of the water became disproportionate. Population growth and the increase in industrialization ultimately affect how much water is needed by the communities that surround the rivers.

    Currently, however, Mexico is facing a significant shortfall in the amount of water — 307,943 acre-feet, or 379.8 million cubic meters — due by Oct. 24, when the current five-year cycle ends. The deficit is about 88% of what Mexico is expected to supply per year to the United States. It is also worth noting that Mexico receives four times the amount of water it exports to the United States under this treaty. Nevertheless, the ramifications of the 1944 Treaty continue to impact everyday Mexicans over 75 years later. Mexico is not only behind on its payments, as noted, but the local farmers see this rapid exportation of water as impossible in conjunction with their own water uses. Farmers are not protesting the treaty itself, but rather how quickly and how much water will be revoked within a month. Whereas on the other hand President Andrés Manuel López Obrador ordered his National Guard’s to guard the Chihuahua dams in question and ensure that the water repayment mission is completed. AMLO is adamant on repaying the water debt as he fears the consequences of not complying could result in U.S. tariffs. As Sally Spener, a U.S. spokeswoman for the U.S. Water Commission, noted the treaty does not specify sanctions for noncompliance and assumes that both parties will make “good-faith efforts” to fulfill mutual obligations. This signifies that the treaty holds no mention of sanctions or further conflict as a punishment for non compliance. ...

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  • President López Obrador Targets His Predecessors with a Referendum on Corruption

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    by kheinle

    President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is throwing the weight of the Supreme Court (Suprema Corte de Justicia de México, SCJN) behind a referendum to address past cases of criminal conduct, specifically that of corruption and ties to organized crime. In a move that is politically charged and controversial, the president’s referendum seeks to allow for former Mexican presidents to be investigated and held accountable for potential criminal acts conducted while in office.

    The Referendum’s Target
    The referendum specifically looks at the administrations from the last three decades, including former Presidents Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994), Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León (1994-2000), Vicente Fox Quesada (2000-2006), Felipe Calderón Hinojosa (2006-2012), and Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018). There is only one other former Mexican president still alive, Luis Echeverría, but President López Obrador did not name him in the proceedings. Those that were named, however, are accused of being involved in “privatizations rife with cronyism, spiraling violence, and an increasing concentration of wealth,” writes The Guardian.

    Nevertheless, none of the five former presidents named in the referendum have any open criminal cases against them. Rather, this referendum would simply allow for the possibility that they – and future presidents – be investigated and prosecuted for alleged crimes committed in office. Article 108 of the Mexican Constitution protects sitting presidents from being charged while serving, unless the wrongdoings pertain to treason and serious crimes against the common good (“por traición a la patria y delitos graves del orden común”). President López Obrador’s referendum would simply open the door for action to be taken after the president leaves office. ...

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  • Former Mexican Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda Arrested by U.S. Officials

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    by rkuckertz

    In a move that shocked Mexican citizens and officials alike, U.S. authorities arrested former Mexican defense minister Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda on Thursday, October 15 just after he arrived at Los Angeles International Airport with his family. He was taken into custody after U.S. officials indicted him on various drug trafficking-related counts, including conspiracy to import and distribute heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana. The arrest sent shockwaves through Mexico, as Cienfuegos (also known as “El Padrino”) is the first high-ranking Mexican military official to be arrested in the United States in connection with drug trafficking and organized crime.

    General Cienfuegos was a member of Mexico’s armed forces for 54 years and served as Mexico’s defense minister under President Enrique Peña Nieto from December 1, 2012 to November 30, 2018. Throughout his tenure as head of the Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA), he was tasked with the military’s fight against organized crime. During this time, Cienfuegos defended military personnel against accusations of human rights violations, particularly in the widely-publicized extrajudicial killings in Tlatlaya and Iguala (2014). Notably, the former defense minister repeatedly refused to allow investigators to interview soldiers involved in these massacres. Nonetheless, he was thought by the public to be committed to the fight against organized crime. As the Los Angeles Times reports, he once denounced drug traffickers who attacked military personnel as “sick, insane beasts.”

    The charges against Cienfuegos were brought before a Brooklyn grand jury on August 14, 2019, on which day U.S. Magistrate Judge Vera M. Scanlon issued an arrest warrant. On Friday, Cienfuegos appeared before a court by videoconference to hear the charges against him: three charges of conspiracy to manufacture, import, and distribute narcotics and one count of money laundering. He is currently being held without bail in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles, California as he awaits his next court appearance on Tuesday, October 20. Notably, Cienfuegos obtained legal representation from defense attorney Duane Lyons—the same attorney representing Mexico’s former Secretary of Public Security, Genaro García Luna, who was also arrested last year by U.S. officials in connection with drug trafficking. ...

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  • COVID-19’s impact on indigenous women in Mexico

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    by vrice

    While COVID-19 has affected various sectors of the Mexican population, indigenous communities—and especially women—have been particularly impacted in the wake of pandemic austerity measures. Budget cuts to Indigenous and Afro-Mexican Women’s Shelters (Casas de la Mujer Indígena y Afromexicana, CAMIs) have led indigenous women to mobilize and increasingly accuse the government of negligence. This unrest challenges claims in President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) recent government report that his administration has effectively supported women and indigenous communities during the pandemic.

    Approximately 21.4% (25 million) of Mexico’s 120 million citizens are indigenous. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, 1,882 deaths and 15,390 cases of the coronavirus have been registered in Mexican indigenous communities. This data translates into a 12% mortality rate from COVID-19 for indigenous Mexican communities, compared to the national average of 10%. The country currently has the fourth highest number of deaths from coronavirus in the world (79,088).

    The lack of hospitals in indigenous communities, coupled with pandemic travel restrictions, make seeking medical care even more difficult than for the non-indigenous population. These factors further threaten indigenous women’s access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. Indigenous women already have higher infant mortality rates, at 3.3 deaths for every 1,000 live births, compared to 2.2 deaths for non-indigenous women. Given these rates, the prenatal care and birthing assistance provided by CAMIs becomes even more indispensable. In addition, 19.9% of indigenous populations lack access to water and 24.6% do not have sewage systems. Compliance with COVID-19 safety measures, like frequent hand washing, is unfeasible without access to these resources. Further threats to indigenous women’s health arise from gender based violence. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) México, the rural location of most indigenous communities impedes the ability of women to escape increasing domestic violence rates during pandemic lockdowns. ...

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